Every superstar has one thing in common, they have to have a finishing move. One of the first impressions we get from a wrestler is their finishing move. It becomes one of the ways we know them. Not only will they use it to finish a match, they use it regularly out of matches. During in-ring segments and match interference, wrestlers will use their finishers as their go-to move. It is part of the reason that generally wrestlers won’t have the same finishing move as another wrestler. There are great finishers and there are definitely finishers that are lacking, to put it politely. So what makes a finisher great? What makes a finisher look weak? Let’s break down the recipe!
1. Make sure you can do it to everyone!
So you have the perfect finisher, a giant press or slam that destroys your opponent! Man you look strong doing it, too! That is…until you have to pick up a guy who is just too big for you. If you’re going to have a finisher where you have to pick up and possibly hold up your opponent, make damn sure you can do it to ANYONE. This is ESPECIALLY important for WWE workers because Vince McMahon loves his big boys. If you can’t lift everyone you better rethink your finisher. Trying to lift someone who is too heavy and failing on live TV is going to make you look bad and possibly make you lose a push you’re getting.
2. Make it hurt!
Or look like it anyway. I see this problem a lot recently. Wrestlers come in and they have a move that looks elaborate and fancy, but…it doesn’t look like it hurts! That is the whole point of a finisher! A move that is so devastating to your opponent that they should not be able to kick out of a 3 count. Xavier Woods has this problem with his current finisher. He does a fancy front flip then spring boards into a weak clothesline. His finisher looks flashy and cool, but it doesn’t look like it hurts! The end result of his finisher is a clothesline that usually misses his mark or ends up looking like a punch to the shoulder. Moves like the Pedigree, the RKO, Sweet Chin Music, KO Punch, Spear, Stone Cold Stunner, and Powerbomb all look painful!
3. Be able to hit it out of the blue
This isn’t necessarily a key ingredient to any finisher, but it is a key ingredient to the perfect finisher. Some of the best moments in a big main event match come from a finisher that was hit completely out of nowhere. Anyone remember the giant RKO Randy Orton delivered to Evan Bourne a few years back? Orton hit Bourne with the RKO while Bourne was mid Shooting Star Press. It was an epic move to say the least. Shawn Michaels was the king of hitting his finisher out of anywhere. He would hit the Sweet Chin Music when no one was expecting it and the fans would go nuts for it. Randy Orton has taken over as the king of hitting his finisher when it isn’t expected. Randy can and will hit the RKO anywhere at any time. Roman Reigns is looking good recently, too. His spear is both powerful and is delivered out of nowhere most times. Even if the move might not be a quick move like the RKO or Superkick, you can still deliver it quickly. John Cena is very good about hitting the Attitude Adjustment with speed when he wants to.
4. Make sure you have time to pose for the cameras.
This may sound like a counter to my last point, but it is true. Your move SHOULD be able to be hit out of the blue, but that doesn’t mean it has to. Unfortunately, the E in WWE does stand for entertainment. That means holding or posing for a minute just before delivering your finisher. There is a reason that guys tend to do a “pose for the crowd” moment before finishers that don’t need it. Look at Big Show, he does a KO Punch. He has no reason to hold his fist up in the air to indicate he is going for the knockout, but he does for photos and hype. Same with Randy Orton, he can hit his RKO whenever, wherever, but he will get down and pound the mat to let fans know it is coming. John Cena will hold the person he is about to hit with the Attitude Adjustment above his head for just a moment longer than he needs to so fans can snap a quick shot. It is import to be able to pose for a picture and satisfy the fans.
A finisher is a wrestler’s signature in the ring, so make sure it is a good one. If you can’t perform your finisher on anyone, you could be in trouble when a big man comes your way. All flash and no substance will come off making you look bad. Hitting a big move out of nowhere can get you serious points with the audience and officials backstage. Then again, as Edge and Christian have taught us, the fans love a 5 second pose, so make sure to give your fans a moment to snap that picture. Make sure you follow these rules and you will have the perfect finishing move.